How can I add to or edit a quotation in an essay?

This is the third and final chapter about Quoting. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Introduce five ways in which quotations can be altered

– Provide directions for adding to and editing quotations

– Use examples to contextualise quotation usage

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This topic now has an interactive unit: Citing Source Quotations
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Chapter 3

Having discussed why quotations are used in academic writing and how to include them correctly, the final aspect of quotation usage is about adding, editing and deleting text as well as dealing with errors in the original source and adding writer emphasis. Each one of these is dealt with below using the following example:

Quoting 3.1 Example Quote

Once you’ve read about the different ways of editing quotations, you may wish to download our beginner-, intermediate– and advanced-level worksheets on this topic to check your comprehension.


1. Adding Text

There may be occasions when you wish to add text to a quotation, perhaps to clarify that quotation or explain a pronoun that’s been taken out of context. It’s perfectly OK to add text to a quotation in this way provided you inform the reader that you’ve done so. The way to do this is to include the new text within square brackets ([ ]), as is shown in the example below:

Quoting 3.2 Adding Text

2. Editing Text

There may also be instances when you’ll need to edit the original text used in the quotation, although this shouldn’t be done without good reason. Generally, acceptable reasons to edit a quotation are to change the grammar or tense of that quotation so that it better fits within the flow of your writing, or to replace an unclear pronoun with a more specific noun or noun phrase. Again, much like when adding text to a quotation, square brackets are used to envelop the word that’s being inserted into the text:

Quoting 3.3 Editing Text

3. Removing Text

It’s also possible to remove a section of text to make that quotation shorter (perhaps to save on words), to join two distant pieces of text, or to remove unnecessary language. Again, square brackets are used to also remove text, except this time an ellipsis (three dots in a row) is placed within those square brackets to indicate that text has been removed:

Quoting 3.4 Removing Text

4. Fixing Errors

There may even be scenarios in which you find genuine errors within the original text. Rather than fix those errors yourself, it’s simple enough to use the Latin word ‘sic’, meaning ‘so’ or ‘thus’ (although some people simply think of it as meaning ‘spelling is correct’), directly after the mistake in italics and square brackets.

Quoting 3.5 Fixing Errors

Of course, do be sure to check that this mistake is indeed an error and not simply a spelling variant between British- and American-English dialects, for example.


5. Adding Emphasis

The final way in which you may wish to alter a quotation is to add emphasis to that quotation in the form of italicising particular text. If such italicised emphasis is added however, you must remember to also mention that you’ve done this in the related citation by including the phrase ‘my emphasis’:

Quoting 3.6 Adding Emphasis

Knowing how to manipulate a quotation any more than 10% of cited material as quotations within an assessed academic submission. Following this guidance, all that’s left to do now is check your comprehension of this topic by downloading and completing some of our professionally-made worksheets.

3 of 3 Chapters Completed


Once you’ve completed all three chapters about quoting, you might also wish to download our beginner, intermediate and advanced worksheets to test your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

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